The Ohel Jacob Synagogue was founded in Lisbon in 1934, by a group of Jews from Poland and Germany forced to flee to Portugal either because of the pogroms or because of serious economic crises in their countries. It stands, until today, as the only Ashkenazi synagogue in Portugal.
Its rites followed the Orthodox tradition. After a period of activity suspension and subsequent reconstitution, the synagogue hosted the first B’nei-anusim (“Children of the forced” or “Marranos”) who wanted to return to the religious traditions of their ancestors forced to convert to Christianity during the 16th century. Since the 1990s, it is the only synagogue open to B’neianusim and currently connected to the Progressive Movement. Conversions and Returns are done under the guidance of Rabbi Alona Lisitsa.
The Israeli Youth Hehaber Association, later Hehaver, was responsible for the Ohel Jacob Synagogue foundation and maintenance since the 1920s. At the time, it was an institution of Zionist character with social activities, entertainment and fund raising to support Israel.
Nowadays its goal is to preserve Jewish culture and religion, having been legally registered and constituted by public deed only on 26 October 1999 at which time it was created its first institutional symbol used in representation of the Association as of the Synagogue until today.
It is not possible to locate an exact date for the first visual identity typography reproduction related to the synagogue, but there are stamped documents from the 1940s in synagogue’s collection with a symbol and a logotype as one of the possible oldest iconic representations of the Ohel Jacob Synagogue.
This following presentation aims to emphasize the antiquity and the extraordinary nature of the origins of the Ohel Jacob Synagogue (available on hehaver-oheljacob.org) as a reference for the preparation of this document. With the appointment of the I. Y. Hehaver Association / Ohel Jacob Synagogue as an affiliate member of World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), by the time of its 90th anniversary celebration – event held in London, between 14 and 17 April 2016 and promoted by the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) -, a new milestone has been established in the long and dense history of the Institution.
Its website was built, proceeded by the documentation, optimization and consolidation of its visual identity taking into account the fusion of identities: Association and Synagogue. Special consideration was given to the original graphic and symbology, either under the light of the present context or under the light of Judaism itself. Citing Marina Pignatelli, in her academic work:
«The Askenazi Jews of Lisbon: Cultural contacts during the Recongregation of a Community”:
Despite the challenges that they are still facing, it can be said that the old “Jewish issue” of searching for identity and roots was never (…) so topical as it is today, after all.